Sun | Sep 22, 2019

Beres celebrates 64!

Published:Friday | August 30, 2019 | 12:28 AM
Birthday boy Beres Hammond was the life of the party.
Birthday boy Beres Hammond was the life of the party.

At a club in the fashionable Wynwood section of Miami, more than 300 people were on Wednesday night, treated to an exclusive concert for one of Jamaica’s most revered artistes, Beres Hammond. The celebration of the singer’s 64th birthday also served as a wrap party for the recent leg of his US tour, and a glamorous fête for a who’s who of the Miami music scene.

The evening began with a tribute to the artiste from longtime manager Mervis Walsh, who helped to orchestrate the elaborate affair hosted by radio personality Pat McKay. The concert featured members of the 10-piece Harmony House Band serenading their leader with re-­interpretations of favourite Beres compositions. The outpouring of love and raw musical energy filled the intimate space with powerful reggae vibes. The energy was heightened even more when singer Romain Virgo stepped on stage to perform his renditions of Beres’ hits Double Trouble, I Feel Good and the classic, One Step Ahead. His passionate performance underscored the heartfelt lyrics and enduring feelings that Beres fans have for his music.

The highlight of the night came when the man himself greeted the crowd after the presentation of a three-tiered birthday cake and tribute from Chris Chin, CEO of VP Records. The singer performed a nearly 30-minute set of his hits, displaying the tight-knit rapport with his band that concert fans have come to know and love.

SPECIAL NIGHT

“I’m glad that we took the opportunity to show Beres how much we appreciate him,” said Chris Chin. “It was a very special night.”

Beres Hammond, christened Hugh Beresford Hammond, at birth was born on August 28, 1955, in Annotto Bay, St Mary. He is known internationally for his romantic lovers rock and soulful voice. While his career began in the 1970s, he reached his greatest success in the 1990s.

According to his biography on jango.com, Beres, the ninth of 10 children, grew up listening to his father’s collection of American soul and jazz music, including Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. He was further influenced by ska and rocksteady, in particular Alton Ellis.

Hammond began participating in local talent contests from 1972 to 1973, which led to his first recording, Ellis’ Wanderer. In 1975, he joined the band Zap Pow, as lead singer, leading to the hit 1978 single, The System. However, he simultaneously sought a solo career, releasing his debut album, Soul Reggae, in 1976. His solo ­ballads, One Step Ahead (1976) and the Joe Gibbs-produced I’m in Love (1978), were both hits in Jamaica. He left Zap Pow in 1979 to pursue his solo career and recorded two more albums, Let’s Make A Song in 1980 and Red Light 1981.

Hammond formed his own record label, Harmony Records, in 1985, for the release of his Make a Song album, which had two Jamaican chart-toppers that were influenced by the emerging dancehall style: Groovy Little Thing and What One Dance Can Do. The latter, produced by Willie Lindo, began to break Hammond into the international market.